British Columbia

Single 10-lane bridge to replace Port Mann

The B.C. government unveiled its plans Wednesday to replace the Port Mann Bridge on Highway 1 east of Vancouver with a single 10-lane bridge.

The B.C. government unveiled its plans Wednesday to replace the Port Mann Bridge on Highway 1 east of Vancouver with a single 10-lane bridge.

The full cost of the project will be financed through electronic tolls, which will be $3 each way for cars. The government will retain control of the rate of the tolls.

Premier Gordon Campbell said the construction on the new bridge connecting Coquitlam and Surrey across the Fraser River would begin immediately and eventually create 8,000 jobs by the time the project is completed in 2013.

In front of waiting reporters, the premier helped start the driving of the first pile for the bridge foundation.

"Right now, congestion on the Port Mann Bridge is approaching 14 hours a day, and it's harming our economy, our environment and quality of life," said Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon.

"The Port Mann-Highway 1 Project will help travellers see a time savings of up to 30 per cent due to reduced congestion. This is time better spent at their workplace or with their families."

The capital cost of the project, including upgrades to 37 kilometres of Highway 1 on either side of the bridge, will be $2.46 billion, said Campbell.

The total cost, including operating costs and maintenance, rehabilitation and interest, is expected to be approximately $3.3 billion.

Replaces 45-year-old structure

The new bridge will replace the existing 45-year-old Port Mann Bridge and will include new RapidBus service that will allow commuters to travel all the way from Langley to Burnaby SkyTrain in 23 minutes, said Campbell.

Once the new bridge is complete, the old one will be removed, saving an estimated $180 million in maintenance, rehabilitation and seismic upgrades that would have been required, he said.

In addition to RapidBus service, the new bridge will be built to accommodate the installation of light rapid transit line underneath the main deck at a future date.

The budget also includes $50 million to expand networks for cyclists and pedestrians. The bridge will be built by Connect BC Development Group with the government in a public-private partnership.

The Connect BC Development Group team includes the Macquarie Group, Transtoll Inc., Peter Kiewit Sons Co. and Flatiron Constructors Canada Limited.

The province will provide one-third of the financing, and Connect BC will fund two-thirds.    Last June, the government announced it would spend $1.5 billion to twin the aging bridge, which spans the Fraser River between Coquitlam and Surrey.

Construction was originally expected to start in the fall, but the project was delayed as the province struggled to secure a deal to finance the project.